- Sean Allen
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Fantasy Game Notes for Sunday: American League
Comerica Park (outdoor) 1:05 p.m. ET (sunny and hot, high of 96 degrees)
Daisuke Matsuzaka, RHP (10-5, 3.53 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) versus
Nate Robertson, LHP (4-6, 4.86 ERA, 1.62 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Kevin Youkilis, 1B (hamstring, questionable)
Game Story: Normally you would have second thoughts about your pitcher when he is facing the powerful Tigers lineup, but Dice-K has been doing nothing but improving as the year rolls along. Plus, he already has a complete game six-hitter versus Detroit. Robertson hasn't gone past the fifth inning since May 2, making him a gamble against the Red Sox. They are considerably less dangerous with Youkilis out of the lineup, but seeing as how Matsuzaka is likely to lead Boston to a win here, gambling with Robertson doesn't seem worthwhile. Shallower leagues can replace David Ortiz in their lineup as Big Papi hits .258 versus left-handers with zero home runs. Dustin Pedroia has a good split against southpaws and can make a nice substitution here, hitting second due to the absence of Youkilis.
Yankee Stadium (outdoor) 1:05 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 94 degrees)
Ervin Santana, RHP (5-9, 5.35 ERA, 1.50 WHIP) versus
Chien-Ming Wang, RHP (8-4, 3.58 ERA, 1.20 WHIP)
Game Story: Santana is on the road, so don't even think about using him (3.42 ERA at home, 7.45 ERA on the road). Garret Anderson is the only Angels regular hitting better than .300 over the last week, making Wang a solid option. He recovered nicely from two non-quality starts in late June with a seven-inning shutout of Minnesota. Wang has also beaten the Angels once already this season and sports a home ERA a full run better than his road ERA. The hamstring is still bugging A-Rod a bit, but he started at third base on Friday, and should be in the lineup. After hitting his only June home run on June 1, Robinson Cano has two blasts already in July. He had significantly improved power numbers post-All Star break last season. Shallow leagues that may have been benching him will want to get him back to active duty. Melky Cabrera has brought his batting average from .254 to .278 over the last six games and his hot streak warrants attention. He is owned in 1 percent of ESPN leagues and leads the Yanks in RBIs over the course of the last week.
Rogers Centre (indoor/retractable roof) 1:07 p.m. ET
Paul Byrd, RHP (7-3, 4.71 ERA, 1.42 WHIP) versus
Josh Towers, RHP (4-5, 5.71 ERA, 1.41 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Troy Glaus, 3B (foot, questionable)
Game Story: If you can last six innings for a team like the Indians, they will normally find a way to win you the ballgame. Byrd has only failed to pitch into the sixth twice this year and his 7-3 record reflects that. Those in search of a Sunday win will want to use him against the Jays. Matt Stairs, Frank Thomas and Vernon Wells are a combined 10-for-43 (.233) lifetime versus Byrd, so he may even offer more than an empty win. Reed Johnson is back with Toronto and is 3-for-3 in his career versus Byrd. Johnson is an underappreciated source of runs in fantasy and may convince you to keep him on your team after you've used him a few times. Although Towers has won his last two starts, they haven't been pretty (5.56 ERA and 1.41 WHIP). As always, stay away from Towers. Trot Nixon could make a career out of hammering Towers (12-for-25, .480, 2 HRs), and makes a good pickup here.
U.S. Cellular Field (outdoor) 2:05 p.m. ET (sunny and hot, high of 96 degrees)
Carlos Silva, RHP (6-9, 4.37 ERA, 1.37 WHIP) versus
Javier Vazquez, RHP (5-5, 3.70 ERA, 1.08 WHIP)
Game Story: Vazquez has been dialed up of late, with three straight starts of at least seven innings with no more than one earned run. If that is not enough to get you on board, Vazquez also sports a 0.66 ERA in two starts against Minnesota this season. Go ahead and move him to the top of your spot-start list for today; I don't care how many runs the Twins scored Friday. With Vazquez primed to put on a show, go with just Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer and Torii Hunter as your Twins. If Castillo plays Saturday, you can start him as well on Sunday (24-for-64, .375 career versus Vazquez). Carlos Silva is going to have to be on after Matt Garza's start Friday made him look more than ready to usurp a rotation spot. Unfortunately, Silva's ERA is an even 5.00 on the road and the Sox offense has been hitting its collective stride over the last week; notably Paul Konerko (9-for-26, .346, 2 HR), Jim Thome (9-for-31, .290, 3 HR) and Josh Fields (10-for-31, .323, 3 HR). Get Fields into your lineup if you need some Sunday power. Leave Jermaine Dye on the bench. He may bat .350 versus Silva (7-for-20), but he is 1-for-his-last-22 heading into Saturday. Juan Uribe is a career 16-for-32 (.500) against Silva if you need middle-infield help.
Kauffman Stadium (outdoor) 2:10 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 92 degrees)
Scott Kazmir, LHP (5-5, 4.28 ERA, 1.56 WHIP) versus
Jorge De La Rosa, LHP (6-9, 5.27 ERA, 1.57 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: With several of the threatening Royals' hitters batting from the left side, Kazmir should be in for a good outing. Kazmir has a 0.98 WHIP versus left-handed bats, compared with a 1.93 WHIP versus right-handers. Kazmir should be able to dominate Alex Gordon, Mark Teahan, David Dejesus and Joey Gathright. With that knowledge in hand, Kansas City becomes much-less threatening to a troubled Kazmir owner. De La Rosa could catch Tampa Bay off-guard as Brendan Harris, Dustan Mohr and Ty Wigginton are the only ones who have seen him at all before, and it's still a combined four hitless at-bats. If you are in a deep AL-only league looking for a spot-start, De La Rosa has a chance to suceed. As always, Akinori Iwamura is a must-start versus southpaws (.379). Keep Gary Glover handy for a cheap save with Al Reyes on the DL. It was by no means pretty, but Glover converted one on Friday.
Rangers Ballpark (outdoor) 3:05 p.m. ET (partly cloudy, high of 92 degrees)
Daniel Cabrera, RHP (6-9, 5.15 ERA, 1.40 WHIP) versus
Kevin Millwood, RHP (5-7, 6.54 ERA, 1.71 WHIP)
Game Story: Millwood is coming off three straight quality starts and is facing a band-aid Orioles lineup; he should be a good start here. If you were ever going to use Chris Gomez though, this is likely your chance. Considering he has 59 career home runs in 17 seasons, the fact Gomez has hit two versus Millwood is significant. Kevin Millar is also an option, hitting .361 over the course of the last seven days, and .297 versus right-handers. The Orioles aren't the only team in this game putting a weak lineup together, as Texas hasn't been as scary, short Mark Teixeira. Michael Young is 1-for-11 (.091) versus Cabrera. Still, you know you are playing with fire whenever you use Cabrera. Brad Wilkerson is on a tear with five home runs and 15 RBIs during the last week.
McAfee Stadium (outdoor) 4:05 p.m. ET (clearing, high of 73 degrees)
Ryan Feierabend, LHP (1-3, 9.72 ERA, 1.92 WHIP) versus
Joe Blanton, RHP (8-4, 3.09 ERA, 1.04 WHIP)
Game Story: Feierabend might be making his last start for Seattle as Horacio Ramirez is on the mend. After he coughed up 10 runs while making just four outs in his last outing, Feierabend should be avoided like the plague. Adrian Beltre, Jose Lopez, Raul Ibanez and Richie Sexson all bat .233 or worse against Blanton, who hasn't turned in anything less than a quality start since May 27. Actually, the fact that Blanton isn't owned universally -- he's available in 14 percent of ESPN leagues -- is a downright travesty. If you can pick him up, do so. Travis Buck hits lefties at a .357 clip and is always extra useful versus southpaws.
Fantasy Game Notes for Sunday: National League
Great American Ball Park (outdoor) 1:15 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 94 degrees)
Yusmeiro Petit, RHP (1-1, 2.19 ERA, 0.89 WHIP) versus
Aaron Harang, RHP (9-2, 3.84 ERA, 1.20 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: As much as I like Petit as a short-term fantasy rotation option, this is not the time to test the waters. The hitter-friendly confines of Great American, the Reds sixth-overall team OPS against righties and a winning pitcher like Harang sharing the mound are all good reasons to wait until next time to consider Petit. Harang has found a way to beat his home ballpark though, and actually has a better ERA in Cincinnati than on the road. In limited at-bats versus Harang, Chad Tracy is 2-for-10 and Eric Byrnes is 1-for-6. Ryan Freel may be back, but his mojo isn't working yet. Wait until you see a multi-hit outing before getting him into your lineup.
PNC Park (outdoor) 1:35 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 91 degrees)
Carlos Zambrano, RHP (10-6, 4.04 ERA, 1.31 WHIP) versus
Shane Youman, LHP (1-0, 3.00 ERA, 1.50 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Cliff Floyd, OF (arm, day-to-day)
Game Story: The Pirates are a dose of good medicine for a struggling pitcher, and just easy picking for a pitcher firing on all cylinders like Zambrano is. He should mow down the Pirates, meaning you want to limit your Pittsburgh selections to Xavier Nady. Nady is 6-for-15 (.400) versus Zambrano and 11-for-27 (.404) in the past week. Adam LaRoche may be hitting .429 for the last week with four home runs, but you'll want to avoid him as he is 1-for-11 (.091) in his career against Zambrano. Youman handled the Brewers for a quality start in his first game of the season, and the Cubs rank 26th in the majors for team OPS versus southpaws. NL-only leagues will want to at least have a look at him. Though the team struggles versus lefties, Aramis Ramirez does not (.357).
RFK Stadium (outdoor) 1:35 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 96 degrees)
Chris Capuano, LHP (5-5, 4.28 ERA, 1.44 WHIP) versus
Tim Redding, RHP (0-1, 5.40 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Bill Hall, OF (ankle, DL)
Game Story: Capuano owners can start him here if they want. He may have looked a little rusty in his return from the DL, but Washington ranks 27th in the majors for team OPS versus lefties and should be an easy prey for Capuano. He also embarrassed the Nats with eight innings of shutout ball with nine strikeouts back on May 7. The former Reds' pair of Austin Kearns (7-for-11, .636) and Felipe Lopez (5-for-12, .417) might be speculative plays for deep leagues while Dmitri Young and Ryan Zimmerman remain the only regular fantasy options from Washington. Get all you Brewers into the lineup as the journeyman Redding is no match for this lineup.
Minute Maid Park (indoor/retractable roof) 2:05 p.m. ET
Dave Williams, LHP (season debut) versus
Roy Oswalt, RHP (7-5, 3.52 ERA, 1.39 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Carlos Gomez, OF (hand, DL)
Game Story: It's actually notable that Williams has a career 2.70 ERA versus the Astros. Lance Berkman in particular is 2-for-15 (.133) against Williams. On the other hand, Hunter Pence pounds lefties for a .392 average. Bottom line with Williams is that he's risky, especially with the Mets struggling to put up runs lately to support their starters. Oswalt continues to have an uncharacteristically high WHIP. By no means is he a no-brainer start this year, but at home he is safe. Oswalt has a 2.37 ERA in Minute Maid Park. You can use Shawn Green in this game if you need to as he hits right-handers at a .309 clip.
Busch Stadium (outdoor) 2:15 p.m. ET (sunny, high of 95 degrees)
Barry Zito, LHP (6-8, 4.65 ERA, 1.39 WHIP) versus
Todd Wellemeyer, RHP (2-2, 6.37 ERA, 1.79 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: Scott Spiezio, OF (finger, might play)
Game Story: The Cardinals are atrocious versus southpaws with a 29th ranked team OPS of .680. In fact, don't go much deeper than Albert Pujols, Chris Duncan and Juan Encarnacion (who is 5-for-14, .357 versus Zito) for offense here. The Giants should be able to do damage against Wellemeyer though. In seven attmpts. he only has one quality start, while Ryan Klesko and Rich Aurillia are pacing the Giants with better than .400 averages in the last week. Barry Bonds hasn't homered in the new Busch Stadium yet (one of only two current stadiums he has played, but not homered in), but he has a heck of an opportunity with Wellemeyer on the mound.
Coors Field (outdoor) 3:05 p.m. ET (30 percent chance of showers, high of 91 degrees)
Adam Eaton, RHP (7-5, 5.67 ERA, 1.49 WHIP) versus
Aaron Cook, RHP (5-5, 4.54 ERA, 1.36 WHIP)
Game Story: Offense! Get your offense, here! Start 'em all. Coors Field with Cook and Eaton on the mound makes you salivate (and not just because of the sound of both names). If Pat Burrell makes his way into the lineup he is worth a look, with his 9-for-14 (.643) hitting versus Cook. While Todd Helton should make a good play against Eaton (18-for-53, .340, 4 HRs). Oddly enough, Matt Holliday has struggled against Eaton, going 4-for-22 (.182). Overall, look away from both pitchers, but consider starting some of the fringe offensive players.
Dodger Stadium (outdoor) 4:10 p.m. ET (clearing, high of 84 degrees)
Scott Olsen, LHP (6-6, 5.01 ERA, 1.62 WHIP) versus
D.J. Houlton, RHP (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP)
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Houlton offers above-average strikeout ability (66 in 80 minor league innings), and anybody with the skill is a good match for the Marlins. I like him as an NL-only option for a quality start and a win. Some of the Dodgers' best hitters (James Loney, Russell Martin, Rafael Furcal) match up better against left-handed pitchers, making Olsen some risky business. Actually, noting Olsen's poor starts in Petco Park and against the Pirates, he should be avoided by anyone who isn't just looking for strikeouts. Matt Kemp has had his power stroke going with two home runs last week, and he makes a nice plug-and-play for your outfield. Jeremy Hermida has two home runs and a stolen base in the last week and hits over 100 points better on the road.
Petco Park (outdoor) 8:05 p.m. ET (increasing clouds, low of 65 degrees)
Kyle Davies, RHP (3-7, 5.85 ERA, 1.56 WHIP) versus
Greg Maddux, RHP (7-5, 3.96 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)
Game Story: The game is in Petco so feel free to spot-start Maddux, who is just about a full run better in his home ERA. Davis isn't striking out enough batters to be worth considering for a start, even in deep NL-only leagues. Stay away. The Jones Boys are a combined 1-for-8 against Maddux and you want want to avoid them in this spacious ballpark. Josh Bard and Brian Giles are the only Padres' regulars hitting better than .250 over the last week, but Davis' boring fastball should wake up Marcus Giles and Kevin Kouzmanoff, so don't shy away from your Padres.
Waiver Wire Pickups
Dustin Pedroia, 2B, BOS @ Detroit Tigers
Melky Cabrera, OF, NYY versus Los Angeles Angels
Paul Byrd, SP, CLE @ Toronto Blue Jays
Trot Nixon, OF, CLE @ Toronto Blue Jays
Reed Johnson, OF, TOR versus Cleveland Indians
Javier Vazquez, SP, CHW versus Minnesota Twins
Josh Fields, 3B, CHW versus Minnesota Twins
Juan Uribe, SS, CHW versus Minnesota Twins
Akinori Iwamura, 3B, TB @ Kansas City Royals
Gary Glover, RP, TB @ Kansas City Royals
Kevin Millwood, SP, TEX versus Baltimore Orioles
Brad Wilkerson, 1B/OF, TEX versus Baltimore Orioles
Chris Gomez, 2B/SS, BAL @ Texas Rangers
Kevin Millar, 1B, BAL @ Texas Rangers
Travis Buck, OF, OAK versus Seattle Mariners
Austin Kearns, OF, WAS versus Milwaukee Brewers
Shawn Green, OF NYM @ Houston Astros
Pat Burrell, OF PHI @ Colorado Rockies
D.J. Houlton, SP, LAD versus Florida Marlins
Jeremy Hermida, OF, FLA @ Los Angeles Dodgers
Please Note that the notable injuries are not meant to be a comprehensive report of each team's disabled list. For brevity, we include only day-to-day injuries or new DL additions for players you might otherwise consider using in these games. Long-term DL or day-to-day injuries to starting pitchers who were not scheduled to appear are omitted.
Sean Allen is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com and TalentedMrRoto.com. He can be reached at alla_rino@TalentedMrRoto.com
7hK. Lee Davis